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British Petroleum and the Gift That Keeps On Giving.

June 14, 2010

Every day I learn something new and terrible about BP’s Deep Horizon oil rig out in the Gulf of Mexico.  Today the bad tidings came from Suzanne Martley, a local lawyer who’s an expert in marine law and sustainable fisheries.  The following is from her interview with Sam Hurst of The Dakota Day:

“Sam Hurst: In that eight years of the Bush Administration, was there just a general opposition to regulation, or do you think there were two or three concrete things that were done that put us at a disadvantage in dealing with spills like the BP spill in the Gulf?

 “Suzanne Martley: Well, there was a general milieu against regulation, but there were also rollbacks on the Minerals Management Service regulations, rollbacks on the conditions of permitting, lack of precision and oversight and rigor on Environmental Impact Statements.

 “The Deepwater Horizon (which exploded in April and is currently leaking oil into the Gulf of Mexico) is not an oil rig, like we are used to thinking. It’s a vessel. It’s a floating, drilling ship. It’s not the way we think of oil rigs in shallow water, where they have feet in the mud. It floats. It’s not even anchored. It just maneuvers itself over the pipe.

 “It is foreign flagged. It’s registered in the Marshall Islands. There are no oil spill liability laws. No permits.

 “I cannot believe that a company that thinks it can flag a drilling vessel in a nation where there is absolutely no monitoring, inspection, oversight requirements, any environmental provisions whatsoever, is dealing honestly. They could take that rig anywhere in the world and have an accident, and try to escape. I don’t think British Petroleum is trying to avoid liability. But there’s not a lot of honesty here.

” The interesting thing is that when you think about threats to the ocean, there are physical threats, chemical threats, and resource threats. There has been a lot of attention about what fishermen do to the ocean. Several fishing industry writers have started to point out; “Come on…in terms of what we take out, the regulations on us are enormous. We have observers on our boats. We have monitors. We have permits. We have Environmental Impact Statements. We have all these provisions about how many fish we take and when and where, and what kind of gear we can use, including cutting down our harvest when necessary.” And then you have this oil rig, this vessel, that now has the potential to completely destroy the fishery in the Gulf of Mexico and nobody ever went on board to check it out because it is permitted in a nation that doesn’t require onboard inspections.”

 To catch the entire interview with Suzanne, dial up

I can hardly wait for tomorrow — maybe the pipeline spill in Salt Lake City will turn out to be worse than this morning’s initial reports.

— Margadant

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